Devo, The Damned
Punk Rock Bowling, Las Vegas (View the full slideshow.)
May 25, 2013
The Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival had a strong start, though some bands like Swingin' Utters (who bowled today as "Swingin' Gutters") had to rush to the festival after the bowling tournament ended around 6 p.m. This was problematic for people like me, who grabbed a bite to eat between the bowling tournament at Sam's Town and the festival at Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
A couple of years ago, I described Punk Rock Bowling as having a lineup reminiscent of the glory days of Warped Tour. This is my first year at Punk Rock Bowling, and I must say out of all of the other festivals I've been to, the best way to describe it is, in fact, as a less sucky version of Warped Tour.
PRB features three days of music, mostly dominated by punk bands, though groups like Devo sometimes end up on the bill. The festival was set up in an empty lot a few blocks away from the main drag of Fremont Street, transforming the area to the intimate setting of Punk Rock Bowling. The festival only has one stage, but that works out quite well given the length of the festival and the number of pre- and post-show events.
Devo was just as strange and fantastic as one would expect. Their set featured a few outfit changes, usually involving the band throwing a few items of clothing into the crowd, including the blue hats seen in the album artwork of its latest record, Something for Everybody.
Devo had some strange props also, as Mark Mothersbaugh threw whole opened bags of chips into the crowd during "Freedom of Choice." He also threw what appeared to be small, colorful bouncy balls into the audience during "Beautiful World."
The band mixed new songs with lighthearted classics such as "Peek-a-Boo" and "Going Under" to motivate the punk-heavy audience to flail about dancing and crowd-surfing. The band dug into its biggest hits midway through the set, performing "Girl U Want," "Whip It," and "Uncontrollable Urge" in sequence. A few people left after "Whip It," but fortunately most of the crowd stuck around until the very end.
Devo's set felt triumphant as the band prepared for the encore with the rousing "Gates of Steel." After changing outfits once again, Devo returned and Mothersbaugh asked the important question burning on everyone's lips -- "Are we not men?" which, of course, was met with a chorus of enthusiastic "We are Devo!" screams.
To supposedly show that there's more to Devo than dark content and sarcasm (the band's words), Booji Boy made an appearance during closing song "Beautiful World." This featured Mothersbaugh in an over-the-top mask, a shirt with a unicorn on it, and a fanny pack, as he sang in a high-pitched voice about Americans expressing love with jihads and the fact that the world is beautiful for everyone but him. Emphasis on the "but," with an added "t" and some dramatic gestures.
The modern influence of The Damned on contemporary punk is undeniable. The band was one of the forerunners of goth punk and continued its legacy last night with a solid set. The crowd got pretty crazy during "Ignite," as the band's eccentric guitarist held a microphone out to the crowd to get fans to sing. The band finished strong with one of its biggest songs, "Smash It Up."
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Devo and The Damned at Punk Rock Bowling Personal Bias: "Gates of Steel" is a perfect song. Seriously. Overheard in the Crowd: Props to Devo for being able to rock out and grab their crotches at this age. Random Notebook Dump: Apparently passing out in the rocks is no big deal.
Devo Setlist: Don't Shoot (I'm a Man) Peek-A-Boo What We Do Going Under Fresh That's Good Girl U Want Whip It Uncontrollable Urge Mongoloid Jocko Homo Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA Gates of Steel
Encore: Devo Corporate Anthem Freedom of Choice Beautiful World
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The Damned Setlist: Love Song Second Time Around Nice Nice Nice Plan 9 Help Fanclub Born to Kill New Rose Anti-Pope Stretcher Ignite Smash It Up